Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White
Savas Beatie, 2013, 400 pp., + 32 pp. introduction, $32.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Just as the title states, both Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White look into the forgotten area of the Chancellorsville Battle. The general idea of the battle tends to be grand scheme of Stonewall Jackson’s Flank Attack against the Eleventh Corps while the analysis usually ends with the wounding of the commander. This book attempts to fill the void in study of the battle and does so in a phenomenal fashion. By analyzing the actions of General Sedgwick and the Sixth Corps, this book gives us evidence that there is always something new to write about in the Civil War, a field where many are starting to think there is nothing new under the sun.
Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., is an author of many other Civil War studies and is a professor in the school of journalism and Mass Communication at Saint Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York. Mackowski is also a historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Park where he gives tours of the four major battlefields of the area including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. He also gives tours of the building where Stonewall Jackson died. Kristopher D. White is a historian for the Penn-Trafford Recreation Board and is also a continuing education instructor for the Community College of Allegheny County near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He served as a military historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park as is a former Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg. He also has a Master of Arts degree in Military History from Norwich University.
As stated in my introduction, this book deals with the actions of the Sixth Corps and General Sedgwick during May 3rd, 1863. Both Mackowski and White use a very engaging narrative to bring life to this little known aspect of the battlefield. Throughout the text, the action takes us to the “Second Battle of Fredericksburg” and Salem Church and also gives some background into why General Hooker used Sedgwick as a Scapegoat for his report on the battle. As I read through the book, which is supported by photographs and maps, I began to wonder why we do not study this area of battle especially when Sedgwick and his men held their own. Both admit that there were some commanders who performed poorly in the Sixth Corps, but there were also many others who performed with great courage and ease. The authors also state that one of the reasons Second Fredericksburg is a forgotten area of the battlefield is because it is seen in Confederate memory as a loss though the battle at Salem Church was a victory. Without ruining much more for the readers, I happily say that this book is a welcome addition to the study of the Chancellorsville campaign.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the battles and campaigns of the Civil War. This is not only a book for people interested in the Chancellorsville campaign, but for people who wish to study strategy and tactics of the war along with the politics in the military which plagued the eastern theater of the conflict for the Union. The narrative is easy to follow and there is never any question as to what is going on because of the wonderful maps and photographs which are supplied by the authors. I praise both Mackowski and White for what they have brought to the forefront of Civil War study and hope that they continue to supply works such as these into the realm of Civil War academia.